Why waste valuable storage space on your PC or phone when you can store your documents and media in the cloud and share it across devices? These top-rated services let you do just that.
Cloud storage can improve small business owners’ capability to access, share, and protect their company’s data, particularly when they have a limited capacity—or desire—to manage on-site technology resources.
To be sure, moving data to the cloud brings its own set of concerns, ranging from security (vulnerability to breaches) to availability; i.e. will a service outage prevent you from getting to your data when you need it. Case in point: a recent disruption on Google Drive and other services. But the cost and convenience benefits of cloud storage are such that an increasing number of small businesses are taking the plunge.
There are almost as many cloud storage services as clouds in the sky, but we’ve compiled a list of 10 of our favorites, focusing on business-centric offerings (in many cases, providers offer consumer-oriented versions at a lower cost—and with less storage and/or fewer features).
We’ve broken the list down into two broad categories: file storage, sharing and synching, and online backup.
Dropbox for Business
Small Business File Storage, Sharing and Synching – Dropbox for Business:Lots of people use Dropbox’s free and extremely easy-to-use basic service to sync and share personal files between the cloud and PCs and/or mobile devices. Dropbox for Business bulks up to support multiple users, provides 1 TB of storage per user, centralized administration/activity monitoring, additional security settings, and the capability to track and recover previous versions of files.
Price: 14-day trial; $12.50 per user per month starting with up to 5 users; 1 TB of storage per user
SugarSync for Business
With SugarSync for Business you can sync and share files and folders from any PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device (or even something called a BlackBerry). SugarSync for Business also includes an Outlook plugin that lets you email links to large files rather than attaching the files themselves, which is a handy way to get around the size limitations for email attachments.Price: 30-day trial; $55 per month or $550 per year for up to three users and 1 TB of storage; $125 for each additional user
Unlike the services highlighted so far, the idea behind Box is not so much to keep files stored online synced with copies on various devices (although you certainly can do that), but to centralize business data in the cloud for easier collaboration. Box offers several noteworthy features, including the capability to share screenshots and screencasts from your desktop, search for text with the content of files (not just the file names), and integration with a plethora of third-party services.Price: 14-day trial; $15 per user per month (minimum three users) with unlimited storage
Google Drive isn’t that self-driving car you’ve heard about; it’s the company’s cloud-based file storage and sharing service paired with the SaaS-based productivity suite (formerly known as Google Docs), which lets you create and edit documents via the browser. Google Drive has some neat tricks too, such as the capability to display files even when you don’t have the program they were created with installed on your computer (handy for Adobe formats like Illustrator and Photoshop). And it ties in with other Google products and services you may already use, such as the Chrome browser, Gmail and Google+.Price: Individual accounts: 15 GB for free; 100 GB for $1/99 per month; 1 TB for $9.99 per month; 10 TB for $99.99 per month; 20 TB for $199.99 per month; and 30 TB for $299.99 per month. No annual plan pricing available. If your business uses (or wants to use) Google Apps for Work, check this page for up-to-date pricing.
Microsoft OneDrive offers a generous helping of free storage, and good integration with Windows operating systems. If you’re using Windows 8 or Windows Phone for example, Onedrive will sync system/device settings and apps as well as files and folders. But it’s not just for Windows—you can get OneDrive for Mac, iOS, and Android, too. Multiple people can collaborate and edit documents simultaneously in real-time and from any device—PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones. Upload photos or videos from your phone or tablet.One particularly clever feature is “Fetch,” which lets you pull files off of an online PC (Windows only) even if you haven’t previously uploaded them to OneDrive.
Price: 15 GB free with sign up; 100 GB for $1.99 a month; 200 GB for $3.99 a month; 1 TB with Office 365 Personal for $6.99 a month
If you’re the kind of person who sweeps a room for bugs before you utter a word (or are dealing with extremely sensitive business information), SpiderOak’s “Zero-Knowledge Environment” may be what you’re looking for. Pretty much every cloud storage provider encrypts your data while you’re uploading it and stores it encrypted on their servers as well. But since most also store your password or encryption keys, your data is vulnerable to breaches or to anyone with physical access to the servers (i.e. an employee of the provider).By contrast, SpiderOak lets you create your password on your own computer and keep it there, so company staff can’t use it to decrypt your data. (Caveat– this also means that if you forget your password or hint, your data can’t be recovered!)
Price: 2 GB for free (60-day trial); Plans starting at $7 a month for 30GB and up to 5TB. Pay monthly or annually. 1TB for only $12 a month
Online Backup for Small Business – MozyPro: MozyPro can automatically back up your critical files that reside on desktops, laptops, or servers. The company’s software is compatible with both Windows and Mac (including Mac-based servers), and it can also back up data from ubiquitous Windows server applications Exchange and SQL. Mozy charges a flat rate according to the amount of storage you consume rather than the number of computers you need to protect (though there is a surcharge if you need to back up servers).Price: 30-day trial; $40 per month for 100 GB on unlimited computers; $12.99 per month add-on to back up servers; discounts available for 1- and 2- year subscriptions
Much like MozyPro, Carbonite Business will back up files and folders on Windows and Mac PCs, while a “Business Premier” upgrade adds support for Windows servers (but doesn’t handle Mac-based servers like MozyPro does). Distinguishing features of Carbonite Business include attractive pricing—less than $1 per GB per year—and a free “Valet Install” option—i.e. Carbonite will remotely install the software for you if you don’t want to do it yourself.Price: 30-day trial; $270 per year for 250 GB to share between unlimited computers (no servers); $599 per year for 500GB (includes Windows file servers); add extra storage to any plan
CrashPlan doesn’t limit its support to Windows and Mac computers; it works with Linux and Solaris systems as well. It also has a unique pricing scheme that lets you choose between backing up an unlimited amount of data per computer or an unlimited number of computers for a given amount of data.Price: 30-day trial; $10/user/month; unlimited storage for 1-20 laptops/desktops, unlimited storage file and type, unlimited versions; endpoint backup and restore
Acronis Backup to Cloud
Most online backup services—including the ones listed above—stick to backing up files and folders rather than entire computers, so in the event of a complete system failure you have to re-install the operating system and applications before restoring your data. Acronis Backup to Cloud backs up complete images of workstations, servers, or virtual machines, allowing you to restore anything from a single file to an entire server.Price: Workstation (unlimited storage) $99/year; Servers (1-3, 500GB storage), $499/year (each server); VMware (2 TB) $1,699 per year